“College Road Trip” – Susan Granger reviews

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Maybe he read those recently alarming statistics – that one out of four teenage girls has a sexually transmitted disease – but there’s this small-town Illinois police chief who is determined to protect his daughter’s safety and security, no matter what.

James Porter (Martin Lawrence) is a control-freak. There’s no doubt about it. So when his beloved 17 year-old daughter Melanie (Disney Channel star Raven-Symone) starts looking at colleges, he’s determined that she attend nearby Northwestern, where he’ll be able to keep an eye on her.

But clever Mel has secretly applied to Georgetown University, which has exactly the pre-law curriculum she’d like. With a bit of help from her understanding mother (Kym E. Whitley), she’s off to Washington, D.C. for an interview. But not alone. Dad is determined to drive her, and her little brother (Eshaya Draper) stows away in the police SUV’s trunk, along with Albert, his squealing pet pig. Then there are Mel’s best friends (Brenda Song, Margo Harshman), who meet them at a sorority house stopover. And, eventually, they wind up car-pooling with another father-daughter tandem – Doug (Donny Osmond) and Wendy (Molly Ephraim) – who cheerfully go the extra mile.

Written by Emi Moschizuki & Carrie Evans (part of the Disney Writers’ Program that encourages young talent), along with Cinco Paul & Ken Daurio and directed by Roger Kumble (“The Sweetest Thing”), it’s a skimpy, G-rated TV episode that’s been padded with silly slapstick to feature-film length. Mercifully, that’s only 83 minutes long. And, for those who care, most of the academic exteriors were filmed at various prep schools and colleges in Connecticut. On the Granger Movie Gauge of 1 t 10, “College Road Trip” is a clumsy, arduous 4. Family-friendly doesn’t have to mean dumbed-down.

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Susan Granger

Susan Granger is a product of Hollywood. Her natural father, S. Sylvan Simon, was a director and producer at R.K.O., M.G.M. and Columbia Pictures; her adoptive father, Armand Deutsch, produced movies at M.G.M. As a child, Susan appeared in movies with Abbott & Costello, Red Skelton, Lucille Ball, Margaret O'Brien and Lassie. She attended Mills College in California, studying journalism with Pierre Salinger, and graduated from the University of Pennsylvania with highest honors in journalism. During her adult life, Susan has been on radio and television as an anchorwoman and movie/drama critic. Her newspaper reviews have been syndicated around the world, and she has appeared on American Movie Classics cable television. In addition, her celebrity interviews and articles have been published in REDBOOK, PLAYBOY, FAMILY CIRCLE, COSMOPOLITAN, WORKING WOMAN and THE NEW YORK TIMES, as well as in PARIS MATCH, ELLE, HELLO, CARIBBEAN WORLD, ISLAND LIFE, MACO DESTINATIONS, NEWS LIMITED NEWSPAPERS (Australia), UK DAILY MAIL, UK SUNDAY MIRROR, DS (France), LA REPUBBLICA (Italy), BUNTE (Germany), VIP TRAVELLER (Krisworld) and many other international publications through SSG Syndicate. Susan also lectures on the "Magic and Mythology of Hollywood" and "Don't Take It Personally: Conquering Criticism and other Survival Skills," originally published on tape by Dove Audio.